We are all aware that times are changing, and hotel owners need to focus even more on the health and safety of their employees and guests. Ensuring your property has the necessary measures and tools in place to protect staff and customers is critical.
Keeping a stock of masks, gloves, sanitizers, and appropriate cleaning equipment is a great start. Additionally, plan for regular HVAC service and maintenance to protect against and mitigate the spread of infection.
Prior to reopening, a full-premises inspection should be conducted to identify any potential hazards or conditions that could lead to incidents, including potential property, liability, and workers’ compensation claims. Inspections can be performed by multiple people to cut down on time but should be very thorough following lengthy shutdowns, closings, and vacancies. Any issues should be documented and scheduled for immediate correction or action planning before occupancy or significant workforce returns.
You can refer to generic safety audit information when conducting inspections, but reopening after a shutdown due to viral infections should be more detailed and comprehensive in nature, focused not only on typical hazards like falls and fire potential but also hygiene exposures to control potential COVID spreading conditions. Despite many general exposures common to hotels and motels, safety inspections should be unique for each occupancy, warranting more than simple generic audit guidelines. Personnel who truly know the buildings well, including maintenance and upper management, along with outside specialists or services could all be of help completing in-depth inspections prior to reopening.
It is also important to reduce points of contact while keeping guests aware that their health and safety are top of mind. Just because you are limiting face-to-face contact does not mean you should forget about demonstrating your proactiveness in health and safety. This will improve your reputation in the travel community. Utilize technology to improve safety. Empower your employees to be champions of new technology with your customers.
Offering a contactless mobile check-in/check-out option means guests do not have to congregate at reception. Guests can submit a photo of documents through the app beforehand. Depending on the technology used, all they must do after arrival is say their unique code and unlock the hotel room door on their mobile device without interacting with the reception desk staff. Similarly, mobile room keys allow guests to open their room with their mobile phone.
Contactless payments are another enhancement to the lodging check-in/check-out process. Smartphone payments have gained popularity due to convenience, but they also avoid unnecessary vectors for virus transmission. Transitioning to a POS system to pay for all provided services with ApplePay or a credit card may be a safer option.
While it may feel daunting to get your business running in a new normal, it is possible with proper planning and communication. Creating a reopening checklist is a great way to get started and make sure nothing is missed. The American Hotel and Lodging Association regularly updates Stay Safe Guidelines focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social distancing, and work environment procedures to meet the ever-changing challenges. Resources like this will help provide peace of mind to your employees and guests that the property is clean and safe.
This article is a general list of suggestions on how to begin reopening your hotel post-COVID-19. This list is not exhaustive. Additionally, it is necessary to comply with all federal, state, and local guidelines as well as any applicable brand standards.